Entertainment Arts Powerhouse director steps down after public funds used to pay for fashion party

Powerhouse director steps down after public funds used to pay for fashion party

A post from Powerhouse Museum director Dolla Merrillees from the night of the MAAS Ball. Photo: Instagram/@MAASDirector
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The director of Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, who presided over a lavish fashion fundraiser using the museum’s budget, has resigned.

The NSW Government confirmed Dolla Merrrillees, who went on personal leave several weeks ago, will not return to the museum before her contract ends on September 7.

The ABC this week revealed the MAAS Ball, named after the Museum of Arts and Sciences, cost taxpayers more than $200,000 and raised just $70,000 for its new fashion fund.

The revelations sparked calls for Ms Merrillees’ resignation.

Dolla Merrillees (centre) has stepped down after revelations public money was used to fund the MAAS Centre for Fashion Ball. Photo: Facebook/MAAS

A spokesman from the Department of Planning, which oversees the MAAS, said a decision to scrap the position of director was made when the government in April confirmed its decision to move the museum to Parramatta.

Ms Merillees was advised she would need to apply for the new role of chief executive and today confirmed she would not.

Arts Minister Don Harwin was accused of misleading Parliament by NSW Upper House MP Robert Borsak over the affair.

He denied the claim and said: “The responses given to Parliament were based on advice received from the director of the museum.”

Today, Mr Harwin thanked Ms Merrillees “for guiding the Museum of Applied Arts and Science (MAAS) through what has been a challenging and exciting phase”.

“Dolla’s leadership during the decision phase to move the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta has helped lay the platform for the future of this treasured institution,” he said in a statement.

Ms Merrillees took over as director of the MAAS in 2016, after it was earmarked for relocation to Parramatta by the state government.

She has several times fronted an Upper House inquiry into the government’s decision to move the museum.